Sun | Sep 24, 2017

1,000 youth workers to help with ZIK-V preparedness

Published:Saturday | December 12, 2015 | 12:00 AMAnastasia Cunningham

The Ministry of Health is employing 1,000 youth workers as part of its preparedness and response to the Zika virus (ZIKV), which is now spreading across Latin America and the Caribbean region.

The workers are being recruited through the parish councils and will be deployed throughout all parishes. They will undertake vector control and ZIKV education activities to include the distribution of health-

promoting messages, such as how to reduce mosquito-breeding sites and how persons can protect themselves from mosquito bites.

The youth workers will move throughout the communities, handing out flyers to householders. Where they observe breeding sites, they are to report it to the health department, which will then destroy the mosquito larvae.

The ministry said that the first sensitisation session with 300 workers will be on Tuesday, December 15, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston. They will be deployed to the South East Regional Health Authority (St Catherine, St Thomas, and Kingston and St Andrew).

Subsequent two-day training sessions will take place in each parish and will be done by the respective parish health departments. Other training sessions are being planned for other health regions and parishes.

ZIKV transmission

The Zika virus is transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected mosquitoes of the Aedes species, particularly the Aedes aegypti, which also transmits dengue and chikungunya (chik-V). There have been reports of non-vector borne transmission of ZIKV through perinatal and sexual intercourse. Blood transfusion has also been identified as a potential means of transmission.

The virus is now an epidemic in nine countries - Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela. Considered a deadly disease, so far, Brazil has reported three deaths associated with the virus.

Health Minister Horace Dalley said; "It is not a matter of if, but when Zika will be introduced into Jamaica, so preparation is key. The health team has to be prepared and the population has to be prepared in terms of what to expect and what they need to do to minimise impact."

Jamaica has no confirmed case of ZIKV.

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com